Good Unanticipated Things   Not So Good Unanticipated Things   Tomato Stuff
   First of all, bear in mind that this is the first time I have grown more than a potted houseplant!  My mistakes and lessons are those of a beginner.  Any successes, I hope will encourage other beginners to begin their own learning adventure!  It really is a lot of fun, which is why I guess there are 80 million gardeners in the US..... four times as many gardeners as golfers! 

The Good:

1) The Green Tops of the Onions taste Great! on Salads and I like them better than the bottom part....and you can start harvest that weeks after planting the bulb and it continues to produce more as the onion bulb grows.

2) Sweet Potatoes grow like weeds! !  I see why they were able to supply a significant portion of  the food in the Biosphere Project!  The tops are an excellent addition to salads! You have to keep trimming them back or they will take over the next two Vertigro pots below them!  Lots of food for the BioDigester as you are not likely to eat them all... lots of digestible stem material!
3) The spices; basil (5 varieties!), oregano, onion tops cabbage and mustard greens greatly enhance the taste of the salads and I eat many more salads which furthers some of my reduced calorie / enhanced nutrition goals as well as adds pleasure to my life.

The Unexpected - Undesired and the Lessons Learned

1) Don't get cocky because you don't see any insect problems when you first start up your greenhouse.  The bugs have an uncanny sense of when it's "dinner time" and will likely show up just before you do. 
    You need to have a broad range of insecticides, fungicides, and strategies on "ready set" so you can respond quickly and minimize both the amount of intervention you have to use as well as the damage.  When I first started my goal was *NO Pesticides*.  That's still a good ideal, however I would suggest a bit more relaxed approach, particularly when you are starting and more likely to have non ideal conditions that you learn over time to correct.  There are some quite safe interventions.... and even if you do have to resort to the more questionable stuff (not likely if you catch the problem early!) you will still use a fraction what a field grower would use.  He's growing the stuff to Sell.... You are growing to Eat..... you are going to be Far more conservative in your approach... and you'll know exactly what you used (hopefully nothing on most of your crops) and wash and consume with caution those you do treat.

This damage was caused by army caterpillars.  It was four days between discovery and intervention so almost all of this damage could have been avoided if I had been prepared both with knowledge and with having the thuricide bacterial treatment ready.

Armed for Bear! - You can see I have added much needed shelves to the GreenHouse sink and have my biological and chemical weapons at the ready.  I really like the small sprayers!  Most of the interventions are quite benign.  Copper for fungicides and mildew, a bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis  that is harmless to humans but wreaks havoc with the evil army caterpillars which caused the damage above.  Neem oil is another safe intervention and there are more and more safer options available as concerns over the nasty pesticides has reduced the market for them. 


That's one problem I hadn't expected! It usually starts on the flower of the fruit and works it's way back killing the fruit.  This is supposed to be a cucumber.  Copper spray's are a safe intervention.  In my case I set myself up for the problem with the misting system which caused way to wet conditions in the GreenHouse.  Plants that are particularly vulnerable are the melons like cucumbers and squashes.  Interestingly, I haven't had the problem with my cantaloupes so far.

   My tomato crops so far are doing quite well.  I learned a lesson on "Suckers" a bit later than I should have!

The first picture shows a sucker which is a small (if you trim it in time!) shoot that emerges at the top of the branch on the tomato you want to keep.  The first picture shows a sucker at the size you want to trim it. Just snap it off!  The second photo shows what will happen if you don't trim it!  It'll get bigger than the original branch! It channels much of the tomato plant's fruit producing potential into vegetative growth that you don't want.... presuming you are raising the plant for tomatoes and not branches!  It also produces a sprawling mess of a thing!